Interesting Top Ten Lists

Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Top Ten Ways I Intend to Kill Myself

In Animals, Injuries, Music, Top Ten on January 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

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by Fat Roland

Fat Roland yarbs strange fiction wordoids at Italic Eyeball and flems on and on about music at Fat Roland On Electronica, for which he has grubbed awards. He piked in 2011 when he was commended in the Manchester Fiction Prize and now everythroob he does is downhole.


Top Ten Observations Regarding the Nest of Ladybirds in our Front Room.

In Animals, Top Ten on January 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm

1. The Ladybird Nest Occurs In Nature

There’s nothing unique about our ladybird nest. Ladybirds nest in groups to survive winter. I had no idea. Neither did my partner. At first, I thought it was something fungal, or perhaps something to do with spiders. They’re clustered in the corner of one of the bay windows.

2. The Ladybirds Are Not Exclusively Red

They’re brown as well. This is why we didn’t recognise them as ladybirds the first time we saw them. Because they’re asleep (to survive winter) they’re just glossy brown dots – about the size of the transparent plastic beads that you’d give to children to make bracelets. The wood of the window frame is white. The nest looks at once repulsively natural and curiously unnatural.

3. They’re Probably Damaging The Wood

I have the sense that they secrete something which will damage the wood. Possibly I’ve read that on the internet. Possibly they’re poisonous (as well). There must be something mucosal, viscous holding them to the wood of the window frame. I worry that when the nest isn’t there anymore, there’ll be a brown stain, and it’ll mean that we won’t get our deposit back. We don’t have a lot of money.

4. They Must Be Cold And Wet

Insects don’t care about that. That’s why they’re sleeping – that’s their method of dealing with the cold and wet. This is more a way for me to talk about my flat. It’s so cold that my partner is often wrapped in a blanket. I sleep a lot, although there are some other reasons for this. It’s so wet that sometimes there are puddles on the windowsills (we don’t have a lot of money). For a while, woodlice were coming in through a hole in the bedroom wall. Great, we thought, we’ve got ladybirds at one end of the flat and woodlice at the other.

5. It’s A Nice Flat Really

And the ladybird nest is a part of how nice it is. It’s run down, but the ceilings are high and we’ve filled it with our stuff. Bookshelves, giant plants, interesting chairs. It’s nice to live somewhere that insects nest (great, we thought, we’ve got ladybirds); it’s wonderful to live with someone who stops you killing nesting insects. I’d intended to vacuum them up.

6. The Nest Is Next To Our Christmas Lights

Which, at the time of writing, are still up, strung across the middle panes of the bay. I turned them on the other day. I told my partner that we’d ‘probably get a brick through the window: people don’t like it when you do things like this’. I’m seduced by the idea that people would be so enraged by Christmas lights still on after Christmas has finished that they’d brick in our window. That’s community (it’s wonderful to live with someone). If a brick happened, would the tightly-packed ladybirds stay, or would it wake them all up?

7. One Day, In Spring…

They’ll wake up. I hope that they’ll wake up all at once, and we’ll come into the front room and there’ll be a modest swarm of them. We’ll pull back the nets and open the window and try and guide them out. People will see us through the window, dancing around wildly and laughing. They won’t be able to see the ladybirds, obviously (people don’t like it when you do things like this). For a week afterwards we’ll find lost ladybirds.

8. Sometimes A Solitary Ladybird Wakes Up.

And flies around the room lazily (dancing around wildly), like a trite and mechanical representation of hope. Or it lands on something and then we notice it. I keep waiting for one to drop itself in my cup of tea. I’m a mature student, therefore I drink litres and litres of tea.

9. I Have A Sudden Fear

I’m worried now that if I get up and walk across the floor to check that the ladybird nest looks the way I’ve described it, it will have gone. The ladybirds will have left (I keep waiting). I won’t check.

10. They’re Nice Enough.

…to survive winter as well.

We don’t have a lot of money. Great, we thought, we’ve got ladybirds.

It’s wonderful to live with someone.

People don’t like it when you do things like this, dancing around wildly.

I keep waiting.

by Aiden Clarkson

Aiden Clarkson lives in Manchester and on public transport. He has done so for a number of years. He’s on twitter (@aidenclarkson) and if you email him (ai_clarkson[at]hotmail.com) he’ll email you.

Top Ten Animals that have caused me to Experience Fear, Shame and/or Discomfort

In Animals, Top Ten on January 4, 2012 at 9:08 am

10. Lapwing

Two birds making cursory lunges in my general vicinity. I was aware that they were just trying to distract me from the location of their nest (which I wasn’t very near to) and that they are one of nature’s bottlers.

Fear 1/10. Shame 0/10. Discomfort 1/10. Total 2/30.

9. Lesser Black-backed Gull

Having been reliably informed that holding a broken piece of cane above my head was enough to distract them, I walked into a field of nesting gulls. Needless to say, the cane did piss all and within seconds I was surrounded by beady-eyed swooping bastards with no thought beyond bringing the ruckus to me and my crappy bit of stick. I legged it before they could do any damage. Hateful creatures.

Fear 7/10. Shame 0/10. Discomfort 3/10. Total 10/30

8. Pheasant

I was halfway over a stile when I noticed a family of pheasant on the other side: a mother and four young. At first I thought I would wait until they moved on, I didn’t want to startle the chicks. But it became clear that the mother had no intention of shifting and was, instead, eyeing me up for a good scratching. Deep down I knew I could punch her beak off if it came to a fight, but her unnatural confidence got the better of me, and eventually I turned round and went back the way I came.

Fear 4/10. Shame 7/10. Discomfort 0/10. Total 11/30

7. Deer

I never saw the deer. It was one side of a fence and I was the other. It made a weird, primeval grunt. The noise connected with some primitive part of my brain and suddenly there were two voices in my head; the thought process that I think of as ‘me’ and an older, much older, fearful thing that was thinking backawaynowbackawayowbackawaynow. Despite knowing that I didn’t really need to move, I started to back away.

Fear 9/10. Shame 1/10. Discomfort 2/10. Total 12/30

6. Slug

Taking the rubbish out to the wheelie bin in the dark, I put my thumb through a massive slug. The gloop stuck to my skin. I tried to wipe the gloop away. It wouldn’t move. I had to scrub it off with a non-stick scourer.

Fear 0/10. Shame 3/10. Discomfort 10/10. Total 13/30

5. One of those Cows with Massive Horns (like off the toffees; the hairy ones; highland cattle?)

Highland cattle are supposed to be very gentle but they have horns long enough to kebab you as if you were cheap meat from Aldi. There were some in a field I had no choice but to cross. I skulked along the edge of the barbed wire fence that marked the boundary of the field. The cows, unmoving and unmoved, ate grass and gazed at me sadly, as if I were some sort of tit, which of course, I am.

Fear 6/10. Shame 5/10. Discomfort 3/10. Total 14/30

4. Woodcock

A woodcock is a woodland bird whose most ‘interesting’ feature is that they have eyes on the side of their head, giving them an almost 360° view of the world. This did not stop one from landing at my feet and then, upon eventually noticing me, right royally spazzing out for a good twenty seconds before flying off. I was a tad unnerved, but mostly I was just embarrassed that if it had jammed its long beak through my eye and killed me, my last thoughts would have been “yes, close up it is amazing quite how unlike a snipe’s their markings really are.”

Fear 5/10. Shame 10/10. Discomfort 0/10. Total 15/30

3. Peregrine

I was in the Northern Quarter (by The Millstone, if you need a reference) when a Peregrine Falcon flew from the roof of the pub, landed at my feet, skittered around a bit like a broken spinning top, flew onto a bin, flew directly for my head, flew back to the bin, and then fucked off again. An occasion not too unlike the one with the woodcock, but with an added ‘not the face’ element, and the different shame of being looked down on by passing hipsters, NONE OF WHOM seemed to acknowledge the presence of Britain’s largest falcon in their Belgian beer and moustache paradise.

Fear 7/10. Shame 7/10. Discomfort 2/10. Total 16/30

2. Unknown Creature

I was alone, on a path through a forest in Shropshire, when the sun dulled, a chill breeze passed through me, and something, very nearby, growled, very deeply. I got a horrible, horrible sensation of being watched, no, of being stalked. Fear overtook me. Two words popped into my head. Big was the first word. Cat was the second word. They were then joined by more words, this time in the voice of BBC News reader Nicholas Witchell, who was saying “The badly mauled body of a walker was found today, in the…”

It was probably a boar or something like that. Not actually a lion. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out.

Fear 10/10. Shame 2/10. Discomfort 6/10. Total 18/30

1. Robin

They look cute on Christmas cards don’t they? You wait until one goes for your throat. I was attacked by a robin last January. I wasn’t even wearing a red jumper. The little bastard came from nowhere, and bounced off me like a perfectly thrown bun. For a few seconds it flapped around me squealing and hissing.

That robin, wherever it is, is the smallest thing that has ever made me shit-it big time. I panicked like a schoolboy at his first sight of real boob. I waved my arms around like a fly on its back. I thanked the Lord I had gone to the toilet before I left the house. I haven’t walked that way to work in twelve months.

Fucking robins.

Fear 10/10. Shame 10/10. Discomfort 10/10. Total 30/30.

By Benjamin Judge

Benjamin Judge is writing a novel about sex, death, and renewable energy sources. His short stories have appeared in various places. His blog, Who the Fudge is Benjamin Judge?, won Best Writing on a Blog at the Manchester Blog Awards. He likes cheeses, especially the blue ones.